Noli Irritare Leones Yet another thoughtful calm commentary on religion, Catholics, politics and the world written by a non-Catholic.
Catholic Sensibility A "peace"ful website by a sensible Catholic liturgist usually avoiding the Catholic blog fratricide
Real Live Preacher OK, OK, He's not even Catholic--But he's a model for the unapologetic Christian who evangelizes with the lure of a Cristian life well lived and observed, not the hammer of screaming apologetics hellfire and brimstone.
Open Book Most unapologetic site by a true apologetic Catholic in the best sense of the word
I suspect with the priest shortage, that things have gotten extremely hectic. Priests aren’t allowed to have an “off-day” and often are called to deal with some family emergency of one sort or another. See some “typical" entries here and here. When the priest appears he is the representative of the Church and surely an Alter Christus when dealing with grief and tragedy.
I had intellectually processed this fact but not consciously thought about it until the evening on the day my wife died. Returning from the accident site, I made a few phone calls. One was to the rectory. “Father wasn’t available just then, could I leave a message?” the receptionist asked. I replied, “Yes, my wife died and I need immediate help for my sons and I need to arrange for a funeral.” She told me, she’d give that message to Father. Just like ordering pizza “with anchovies” was routine at Domino’s, I had made what was probably a routine call to the parish office, no reason to think I was unique.
Fr. Coyne continues his good scientific work by forthrightly stating that Intelligent Design is “absurd.” Catholic blog reception is somewhatmixed. It's amazing to me that those who ridicule geocentricism and the DA Vinci Code aren't self aware enough to realize the difference between those absurdities and ID is one of (only very slight) degree.
The sad part is the instant assumption that Fr. Coyne, a distinguished theologian and scientist appointed as the Vatican astronomer by the Pope, is accorded such disrespect by Catholics. Has he read Behe? a blogger incredulously asks? Of course Fr. Coyne has. It’s the blogger who hasn’t realized how clearly Behe has been discredited. Behe himself conceded at the Dover trial that the ID is as scientific as astrology. Fr. Coyne also considers astrology to be absurd, so Coyne and Behe are in agreement as to the relative scientific merits of ID and astrology. Most Catholic members of St. Blogs parish don’t understand the theological difficulties with ID. They don’t understand they make themselves, and Catholics in general, look as gullible as the DA Vinci Code adherents. Instead, they arrogantly dismiss Fr. Coyne based on their poor grasp of theology and science.
Intelligent Design is the DA Vinci Code equivalent for certain Catholics constrained by a literalist reading of scripture. Robert Sugenis objects to an earlier scientific advance (helicetricism) that he deemed inconsistent with his immature theology. Intelligent Design proponents object to a later scientific advance (evolution) deemed incompatible with their immature understanding of theology.
Just as Sugenis needs to adjust his theology, these Catholics need to allow their own theology to mature. Listen to the Church: “Creation has its own goodness and proper perfection, but it did not spring forth complete from the hands of the Creator. The universe was created "in a state of journeying" (in statu viae) toward an ultimate perfection yet to be attained, to which God has destined it.”
That’s right, as a “work in progress," God's creation evolves.
It seems to be my week for criticizing priests. I hope this
isn’t one of those things that come in threes.
Sodamonk wonders how
scientists can be Catholic and also believe in evolution. He makes a common
error that has been addressed numerous times. This happens when people,
including priests, stray from the topics they know and wander into unfamiliar territory beyond their expertise.
He seems amazed that an evolutionist would write the
wrote, there is grandeur in an evolutionary view of life, a grandeur that is
there for all to see, regardless of their philosophical views on the meaning
and purpose of life. I do not believe, even for an instant, that Darwin's
vision has weakened or diminished the sense of wonder and awe that one should
feel in confronting the magnificence and diversity of the living world. Rather,
to a person of faith it should enhance their sense of the Creator's majesty and
wisdom (Miller 1999).
Catholic in tone and reverence, isn’t it? It is written by Kenneth R. Miller,
PhD. Dr. Miller has written the basic biology text used by high school students throughout the U.S. and is the frequent target of
The Discovery Institute, the Intelligent Design think tank publishing
those books at the furious pace observed by Fr. Sodamonk. Phillip Johnson, as
part of the Discovery Institute, specializes in misrepresenting science as part
of their public relations efforts in support of Intelligent Design. I certainly
hope that Fr. Sodamonk will first read Dr Miller’s book, Finding Darwin’s God,
and put it on his Intelligent Design reading list.
quoted passage surprises no one familiar with evolution or with the writings of
Dr. Miller, who is indeed Catholic.
plain fact is that evolutionists cannot be pigeonholed in their beliefs,
something both Sodamonk and Phillip Johnson attempt to do. You cannot attribute
the beliefs of atheist evolutionists with those of Catholic, protestant or
Jewish scientists either. It’s like asking Catholic American citizens why they
believe in atheism because there are also atheist American citizens. The
citizenship has nothing to do with the religious belief. Same for evolution.
agrees with the statement hat someone can believe in evolution and also be
Catholic. I’m pleased to hear that and so is this guy. Once you understand that evolution doesn’t
conflict with religion, Father’s further questions pose no challenge to Catholic
or religious scientists: Of course God
has a purpose for life and of the universe.
Fr. Sodamonk, showing he doesn't understand the subject, addresses this "stumper" to Catholic and other religious scientists:
“If you agree that God has a design for life and the
universe, why would anyone insist that God's design can never
be studied scientifically?
Here’s the answer:
No Catholic or religious scietist insists that! Atheisits do! Remember—his question is directed to religious scientists,
not atheists. Of course, the question is no stumper for atheists either.
But let’s turn the
question around because Father is making some unwarranted assumptions: Do you believe that science can answer all
of the questions we human may have? If
that answer is “No,” then aren’t there some things that can’t be studied
What might some of
those things be?
Whether Opera is better than Country Music.
Whether Rembrandt is better than Andy Warhol.
Whether winter is a more beautiful season than summer.
The simultaneous location and momentum of an electron.
The characteristics of the human soul.
(incorrect) assumption that to be worthwhile, it must be studied
scientifically. Fr. Sodamonk makes this mistake. That’s ridiculous. Science is
not the font of all knowledge and wisdom. It follows therefore that some things really are beyond the ability of
science to meaningfully study. Certainly we should consider that God’s properties and motivations might
be some of those things beyond science. It’s not at all preposterous to suggest
that we will not find God through a study of science. I'm surprised a priest even suggests this.
study some things because science is inherently limited to only those things that can be weighed
measured, detected or “quantified” somehow. That excludes a lot of human knowledge in Religion, philosophy, art,
music and literature, just to name a few subjects. When you get down to it,
science is pretty restricted.
So, science studies
those things that can be measured and detected according to natural laws. When
science observes a phenomenon that can be quantifiable and explained by natural
laws, it’s science. If it can’t be measured, detected and quantified by science
it can’t be studied by science. If it's not governed by natural laws, then it is futile to emply science to study it. That doesn’t mean something doesn’t exist—it
only means that it’s not science. This
is the methodological naturalism, --a limit on the reach of science that
Phillip Johnson obfuscates with philosophical naturalism, a different animal
altogether. Theologians like John Haught (Deeper than Darwin) and Howard Van Till
both examine the theological aspects of evolution
in far more detail than I can here. I hope both also make Fr. Sodamonk’s
naturalism says that we can’t study God or the human soul because they can't be
detected by science and therefore don’t exist.
scientists simply say science ahs no opinion on the matter because it can’t be
detected, yet. —Maybe in the future.
After making several wrong assumptions, Father’s conclusion
predictably goes off the deep end:
“If they claim it is simply because no
scientific proof of God has even been found, they are begging the whole
question of Intelligent Design. Because it is not impossible, in principle, for
scientific evidence of God's design to be found."
There is only one way for
science to detect God and that is to observe a miracle, defined as a
fundamental violation of the laws of nature.
And, it’s Intelligent Design that
begs the question. It has not demonstrated a singlesuch miracle. Fr. Sodamonk must
not know that both Michael Behe and William Dembski both agree in principle
that evolution is essentially correct. Behe and Dembski claim only a handful of instances where they argue intelligent design is observed according to their criteria. They both must agree to maintain plausibility that eviolution describes the vast majority of biology that we observe. Nobody else agrees with them on thos efew instacnes they calim to have observed, but even if they are right, what’s left if evolution is overwhelmingly correct ? Behe has left God with only
a handful of miracles like gluing tails on the butts of particularly virulent
germs. Everything else evolved according to natural laws, according to Behe and Dembski. This is a "gingerbread
crumb trail" theology of God. How poor, how deficient, how weak in faith!
But who cares if a priest butchers
good science with bad theology?
St Augustine provides the answer:
Usually, even a
non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other
elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their
size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and
moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals,
shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he hold to as being certain
from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an
infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture,
talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such
an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a
Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant
individual is derided, but that people outside the household of faith think our
sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose
salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as
unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they
themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books,
how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the
resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven,
when they think their pages are full of falsehoods and on facts which they
themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason?
I enjoy reading blogs that are “slices of life,” talking about day-to-day events in real people’s lives.This gives me the opportunity to see Christ through other people’s eyes.A lot of the blogs I’ve linked to have this kind of beautiful discussion. You can get a clue from titles of blogs likely to have this flavor.Words like “Holiness,“Martha Martha” and Latin words for “flower” often predominate in introspective blogs. References to literature work to and you can't go wrong with blogs written by somebody who is called Enbrethiliel or self characterizes as a bad catholic. Here’s an entry that's one of my recent favorites. I can usually pass on Catholic websites whose titles evoke images of battle, warriors, defenders, etc., for example. That seems to be a sure sign that I will get deep into the type of apologetics that I object to.
I believe that a life lived holy and gracefully is the best form of apologetics and evangelism. When I see holiness, i say, "I want soem of that!" In my critical comment below, Steven Riddle and Elena both observed that they were brought (back) to the Church because of the work of apologetics.I don’t doubt that. A lot of our outlook on life is based on our experiences. I was born Catholic in a very Catholic home. I never had any great crisis of faith, never left the Church, so I can’t really appreciate the power of apologetics to bring people (back) to the Church and I'm glad they both took the time to point out how apologetics helped them.The continued attractiveness of the church to me is in observing the daily lives of those whose religion transforms them, even for mere moments, into persons of holiness--persons to emulate during that moment. That can happen to anybody at any time, fortunately. And, from what I can tell, the form of apologetics that most people describe favorably are “conversion” or coming home” stories, essentially grace in action in people's lives. That’s different than heated debates on the validity of the Novus Ordo. I don’t know too many people who chose the Church on intellectual grounds, but surely there are some.
This was a long background explanation for a book review.The book can be read on several levels, but much of the book is a tender and compassionate description on the day-to-day interaction between a very Catholic father and a holy daughter and it is this aspect of the book that moved me. The daughter was a 17th century Poor Clare cloistered nun who carried on a detailed correspondence with her obviously doting father for most of her life. Amazingly, 124 of her letters beautifully hand scripted letters are intact today. None of his to her survive, unfortunately, so the story is told through her eyes. The immediate thing that strikes today’s reader is how thoroughly religion unselfconsciously infused all day-to-day events in 17th century Italy.Instead of the numerical calendar, Saint’s feast days are often used to refer to events. Also, the extreme poverty that was the lot of nuns is casually treated as normal and something to offer up. Sister Marie Celeste, in spite of her cloistered poverty, makes her father potions to ward off the plague, sews new collars for him, makes sure his stored wines are decanted properly and the lemons are picked from the lemon tree.Her love for him, for her Church and for God is palpable in day to day routine events in her life. It radiates off the pages of the book.
Her letters usually begin,“Most Illustrious and Beloved Lord father”
and end “Most Affectionate Daughter.” Wouldn’t we all love to get letters like this from our grown children?
She asks little of him, some money to buy a small private cell instead of sleeping communally on the floor, as poor nuns did in those days. She also makes a request of her father to use his influence to have a decent (i.e. sober) priest assigned to say Mass for the nuns. It appears that many priests in those days were not really very holy at all and would easily curdle milk with their breath, put fear into the barnyard animals and scandalize the nuns. I would feel honored to have a daughter like Sister Marie Celeste and it’s pretty clear her father felt that way, too.
But, as this story of filial love and devotion is told in the foreground, historic events occur in the larger world stage, including the "trial of the century", the OJ Simpson trial of that century. The verdict in that trial was rendered:
We say, pronounce, sentence and declare that you Galileo, by reason of the matters which have been detailed in the trial and by which you have confessed already have rendered yourself in the judgment of this Hoy Office vehemently suspected of heresy, namely of having held and believe, that which is false and contrary to scripture, that the sun is the center of the world and does not move east to west and that the earth moves and is not the center of the world…
Sister Marie Celeste’s father knelt down and replied:
I, Galileo, son of the late Vincenzio Galilei, Florentine…swear that I have always believed, I believe now, and with God’s help I will in the future believe all that is held preached and taught by the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church and abandon the false opinion that the sun is the center of the world and immoveable and that the earth is not the center of the same and that it moves…
In addition to the sentence of confinement he was also required to recite the seven psalms weekly.His daughter, Sister Marie Celeste took this obligation upon herself to perform this penance on his behalf, because, as she said, “With great zest, first because I believe that prayer accompanied by the claim of obedience to Holy Church is effective, and then, too, to relieve you of this care.”
The Book is Galileo’s Daughter by Dava Sobel, subtitled “a historical memoir of science faith and love.” I cried reading the description of the re-burial of Galileo in 1737, ninety years after his death. I hope what was described there is true.
I object to Intelligent Design because it's bad science and very bad theology. I think that it wrecks our evangelization efforts and it damages the Faith to link evangelization to a demonstrably weak idea with intellectually dishonest proponents. Fortunately, many scientists and theologians agree herehere and here.
To demonstrate the problems, I will set out an accurate description of Intelligent Design theory. Intelligent Design has two proponents who have published books putting forth its scientific basis--Michael Behe and William Dembski.
The first is Michael Behe's 1996 book, Darwin's Black Box. (reviewed) Let's carefully note that Behe fully accepts evolution 's main points. First, he acknowledges that evolution occurs through natural selection. Next, he does not dispute that all life on earth probably descended from a common ancestor. He does not make the silly arguments often heard that "evolution is just a theory," the fossil record is "incomplete" or that there are "no transitional fossils." These arguments are the ones made by uneducated fundamentalist creationists (and many ID proponents as well). However, not all creationists are uneducated. Answers in Genesis, for example, is an intellectually honest young earth creationist ( Earth created less than 10,000 years ago) organization which acknowledges these arguments are poor and should not be made.
Behe, however, notes that, although evolution is almost always the explanation, once in awhile, at the molecular level, some biological systems are "irreducibly complex" and could not have evolved. The system therefore must have been created "all in one piece." Here is his definition: "An irreducibly complex system cannot be produced directly by slight, successive modifications of a precursor system, since any precursor to an irreducibly complex system is by definition nonfunctional."
In his book, Behe identifies a few such systems, including the blood clotting mechanism and bacterial flagella, for example. Since his 1996 book, however, science has continued and has demonstrated that his proposed systems are not irreducibly complex and identified evolutionary pathways for thosesystems. Since 1996 he has not proposed any new irreducibly complex systems and has admitted that irreducible complexity as a definition has analytical problems. In a 2001 Biology and Philosophy article, Behe noted that “there is an asymmetry between my current definition of irreducible complexity and the task facing natural selection. I hope to repair that in future work.” Since then, he has published four articles, none relating to design critiques of evolution or addressing irreducible complexity. He now admits that irreducibly complex structures can evolve and the irreducibility is a matter of degree. That renders the concept pretty useless as a scientific design detection method. No further word on when he might identify any other systems or perform he promised repair work. At this stage his work qualifies as an interesting idea--with no real world examples he is still willing to propose. There is substantial literature pointing out that his irreducibly complex ideas are neither new or valid.
Dembski is the second proponent. His books can be found here. Dembski constructed an "Explanatory Filter" to analyze whether a particular event is “designed.” This is a three step process eliminating various options at each step:
(1) An event that occurs frequently is the result of a natural law, or “regularity” to use Dembski’s phrase.Planets, for example, are observed to orbit the sun in precisely controlled paths of very high predictability.This appearance of design is a regularity governed by Newton's laws of motion.
(2) If the event does not very often, it may be governed by chance. A bug hitting a windshield is a matter of chance. Bad luck for the bug in question, but most bugs will fly around without running into windshields.
(3) However, some matters are so rare, that something other than chance may be operating.Here Dembski introduces three concepts: “complex”“information” and “specified.” Dembski needs to introduce the concept of complex specified information because it is a truism that very rare events occur and these events are clearly not the result of design. Somebody will win the lottery no matter how many people enter.
Dembski does a probability calculation suggesting that when the probabilities are so remote, we can reasonably eliminate chance. Therefore, design is all that's left. There are two problems with Dembski's filter. First he concedes it doesn't eliminate 'false negatives." In short , this means his filter will not always identify design where it clearly exists. That's not a fatal problem because Dembski assures us that his filter will never have a false positive. If it detects design he claims it's always right. But he's wrong. He never apples his efforts to any real world system, it's all theoretical. The reason for this is that he rejects what he calls "side information" in determining design. Side information is information relating tot he nature of the designer, the intended sue of the object, etc.
here are four pictures to demonstrate the difficulty:
Some of these were designed and some were not. Dembski's explanatory filter would result in astronomical odds of some of these objects an dconclude they were intelligently designed--false positives. Others can be shown to be designed only by the use of "side information," which Dembski says is not needed.
Perhaps the most colossal false positive was the discovery by Percival Lowell of canals on Mars. Percival Lowell saw that many Martian canals meet at each of several points. The odds of this happening by chance, he calculated, are less than 1 in 1.6 x 10*260
This is well above Dembski's upper limit for design of 1 x 10 to the 150th power. Dembski himself admits the possibility of error . He says:
Now it can happen that we may not know enough to determine all the relevant chance hypotheses. Alternatively, we might think we know the relevant chance hypotheses, but later discover that we missed a crucial one. In the one case a design inference could not even get going; in the other, it would be mistaken. But these are the risks of empirical inquiry, which of its nature is fallible.
Dembski is conceding that we can never reliably calculate the odds indicating design because, as Lowell did, we overlook a crucial component. That's why Dembski refuses to ever apply his calculations to real world objects like those depicted above. False positives would be quickly identified. Criticisms of Dembski's mathematical work abound and Dembski apparently now has decided to teach theology full time.
This is the foundation for Intelligent design--that there are some natural organic systems which could not have not evolved but which had to be specially created. Created by who? Well, we don't know. All we know is that we humans didn't do it. The key to understanding Intelligent Design is that it teaches that evolution is not the answer to the biological diversity we see around us. That diversity only came out by the occurrence of miracles. Intelligent Design boldly promises that we can reliably detect miracles--supernatural interventions in everyday life.
But is it science? What research is currently being conducted to identify irreducibly complex biological structures? None. What research is being done to calculate the probabilities of various real world objects using Dembski's explanatory filter? None. Any government grants? No. Any university research grants for basic scientific research into these fields? No. Does the Discovery Institute fund a laboratory program for Intelligent Design? No, but its public relations program is well funded!
ID is a form of natural theology prominent among protestant evangelists such as William Paley in the late 1700's and early 1800's and since pretty much rejected. It's not Catholic theology. I'm really wondering if that explains why most of the Catholic proponents of Intelligent Design are former protestants. There is an Immanence in the genuine Catholic theology of creation, CCC 300, 301 and 302, that is simply absent in Intelligent Design. Intelligent Design theory is nothing other than an attempt to convince people to believe in God by some scientific evidence of natural objects. This is an old and ineffective argument--a theology of magic. You want magical proof of God? go buy a tortilla. This method is scientifically indistinguishable from ID, and that's why apologists invoking ID make Christians in general and Catholics in particular look foolish. Don't make my religion look foolish.
The remainder of the Discovery Institute ID proponents are simply engaged in intellectual dishonesty. I've already linked Phillip. E. Johnson's conspiracy theories, where he is claiming that all of science is involved in a conspiracy to conceal evolution's weaknesses and the cause of AIDS, as well. I have no time or patience for conspiracy theorists.
Update: Neither does John Derbyshire at The Corner here and here.
Some comments at Amy's blog raised Intelligent design yet again. Most Catholics simply haven't looked into this subject in any depth. That's unfortunate, because in the realm of science, it's akin to junk science, UFO abductions and HIV denial, another favorite subejct of Mr Phillip Johnson.
here and here are my earlier posts on this subject, inclduing the junk science links.
The theme of this blog is to object to the harm that some forms of apologetics can do to the Body of Christ. When peope who profess to be Christians either ignore the overwhelming evidence of the real world about us or distort it, non believers and fence sitters will simply conclude that Christianity as a whole is a fraud or intellectually weak. That is, of course, not true, but in the meantime we will lose evangelization opportunities. The Truth really will set us free.
My earlierposts strongly criticized Intelligent Design theory, spawned from the worst of apologetics—lying for God. Many people not familiar with the underlying falsehoods accept it as an interesting and hopeful way of proving scientifically the existence of God. I consider it on a par with UFO abductions, and the search for Noah’s ark—ridiculous as science.However, it’s also bad theology. John Haught, former department chair of the Georgetown theology department, thinks so, too, and obviously has a much better grip on the theology than I do. He has written a number of books on science and theology and is a vocal critic of Intelligent Design on theological grounds. He has written a very short (143 page) book, Responses to 101 Questions on God and Evolution.
The book is written in “apologetics” style with the promised 101 questions divided into six categories: Darwin’s Revolutionary Idea, Darwin and Theology, Creationism, Darwin and Design, Divine Providence and Natural Selection, Evolution, Suffering and Redemption, and Teillhard de Chardin and Alfred North Whitehead. The last two individuals are scientists who have a lot to say on theological aspects of evolution. Answers to each page are about a page long. Obviously, a one page answer cannot do more than summarize the fundamental issues he raises. Nevertheless, this is a great “starting” book for those interested in this areas who want to approach the issue from a religious perspective.
Apologetics style question and answer books often fail because the “questions” are straw man type questions, easily demolished in the answers.Such books are not very convincing. Here, though his questions are very thoughtful and go right to the heart of the matter. Some samples:
Is Evolution merely a theory
Doesn’t it render the idea of a God superfluous?
What significance does evolution have for theology today?
Can evolution be reconciled with the doctrine of original sin?
Can the God who suffers along with evolution also be powerfully redemptive?
What reply can I give specifically to the atheistic evolutionary claims of Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett?
I recommend the book as a thoughtful, understandable and short read.
ID reflects our yearning, based on weakness in faith, to “prove” God. We see that same yearning in the search for the Holy Grail, the True Cross, and the Shroud of Turin. Without addressing the authenticity of any particular relic, we all feel that it would be wonderful if there was some physically confirmation of our beliefs that we could use to strengthen our own faith and persuade others to believe. Nevertheless, we have to listen to the words of Jesus:
So the other disciples said to him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe."
Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, "Peace be with you."
Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe."
Thomas answered and said to him, "My Lord and my God!"
Jesus said to him, "Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed."
Unfortunately, we are those who have not seen the physical evidence of Jesus. Unfortunately some would search for that evidence today, and in their efforts they aren't impartial, instead they ignore countervailing evidence insist their own efforts have been successful, accusing those who don't see things the way they do as "unbelieving naturalists." They are not interested int he impartial scientific search for truth--they have become religious apologists, shading the evidence, and ultimately the truth as well.
It is damaging to the faith to strain for scientific “evidence” for God.We would be like cats trying to solve a calculus problem.We don’t know enough about God to make a meaningful search and it is presumptuous to think we do. When we do that, we have erected a false god in place of the real One.
But ID is intended to be a method of apologetics —to prove the existence of God to doubters and nonbelievers through science. The problem is that all reputable biologists (Catholic, Christian, or other) reject Intelligent Design, although many are theistic evolutionists. Consequently, ID advocates have to argue that there is a vast conspiracy in the orthodox scientific establishment to support the prevailing “dogma” of evolution and conceal the true facts that evolution is somehow in jeopardy. This claim bears a remarkable resemblance to conspiracy theoriesin general, such as those regarding UFO abductions, cold fusion, the AIDS virus(yes, the same Phillip Johnson who promotes intelligent design), the fact that Jesus had a child, and denials of the holocaust. Catholics apologists even argue this scientific conspiracy conceals the true fact that the sun revolves around the earth.All of these have the same common denominators:There is a monolithic orthodoxy that proclaims conventional wisdom as “dogma.”The orthodoxy has a vested interest, usually financial, in concealing the truth.There is a vast conspiracy to conceal the truth, requiring a complex web of interconnected conspirators in industry, science, higher education and government. These conspirators are often linked to communism, nazis or some other criminal enterprise to keep a "strangelhold on political power." There is a small band of skeptics willing to keep an open mind about the “controversy.” Finally, the keepers of the truth are prevented from publishing their truth by the conspiratorial network. Intelligent Design has all of these elements.
It seldom dawns on these conspiracy theorists that there is a reason that they are routinely rejected—they are justly perceived as “kooks.” When Christian apologetics begin to argue conspiracy theories to oppose solid science--evolution, for example, we all lose.These tactics recognizable distort the truth. In short, the proponent is foisting a lie upon potential converts and those wavering in their faith. There are many intelligent, resourceful people searching for Christ through the Church. What do they think when they hear a famous Catholic apologetic proclaim that the sun revolves around the earth? What do these people think when they are approached by a conspiracy theorist/evangelist? They think they want no part of a religion that insults their intelligence. These friends are our own worst enemies in true evangelization efforts.
That’s why the Pope’s observation that Truth cannot contradict Truthis so important. He’s right. We run a serious risk of damaging our faith by setting needless limits on what science will discover in the future. Peole essentially "bet their faith" that science will not accomplish something. When it does, faith is needlessly shaken. The truth of science will never contradict the truth of our Faith. Sometime that truth will lead us into uncomfortable places, but when we insist on making our own religious beliefs about how God maintains His creation more important than truth, we have erected an idol in violation of the First commandment. And when we pretend to be truth seekers and then refuse to face the truth, we are poor witnesses as Christians.
Form time to time, I end up doubting God’s existence. I believe that many, perhaps most, people who are devoutly religious, doubt their faith now and then. And that makes sense.If you’re not religious you can’t very well doubt your faith.When believers do fall into doubt, they have to re-find their faith. I know I have to re-build mine from scratch, one faithful brick at a time. During those dark times, when I hear apologists spouting nonsense about subjects that they know nothing about, I am offended by their arrogance--in effect, their lying for God.Martin Luther is quoted famously, “What harm would it do, if a man told a good strong lie for the sake of the good and for the Christian church ... a lie out of necessity, a useful lie, a helpful lie, such lies would not be against God, he would accept them."In this context Luther speaks for all of us as a Christian, not as a Protestant. And the harm lying for God does is that doubters and non-believers find these apologetic lies as good reasons to reject the Faith. This idea that it’s OK to lie for God should be disapproved and apologetics should be scrupulous with the truth at all times. To do anything else damages the faith. That’s why I object to Mr. Sugenis. That’s why I object to Feenyism and that’s why I object to proponents of Intelligent Design who claim that Intelligent Design can prove God’s existence.It doesn’t. God is beyond our understanding. Ask my cat.